Intellectual Property and Nutrigenomics

By Castle, David | Health Law Review, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

Intellectual Property and Nutrigenomics

Castle, David, Health Law Review


Evidence for the connection between good nutritional regimens and healthy living comes from many quarters: personal testimony, folk wisdom, cross-cultural comparisons, dietetics, naturopathy and other health care modalities, and clinical epidemiology. On the face of it, recommendations to eat fruits and vegetables each day, but not eat a daily pound of butter, are over-determined by available evidence. Yet this might just be literally on the face of it, since many of the strongest associations between diet and heath are based on contestable food recall data paired with phenotypic information drawn from memories, retrospective studies and secondary uses of clinical data. During the short histories of evidence-based medicine and the nutritional sciences this is how it has been: in a sense everyone knows about healthy eating, but explaining what that means in scientific terms has been difficult to achieve.

Two methodological advances in the biological and medical sciences have, since the f950s, dramatically changed the evidence base for understanding diet-health interactions. The first is that the biological and medical sciences have become increasingly experimental, and the second is the shift to a molecular focus. The result is the development of molecular, experimental nutritional sciences, (1) and the advent of the Human Genome Project and molecular genetics. (2) One can now begin to point to causal explanations about the underlying mechanisms that make some diets appear to be healthier than others. More significantly, human genomics and genetics are beginning to reveal how diet and health are linked not only through the physiological activity of nutrients, but that nutrients are involved in the cascade of events beginning with gene regulation and expression.

Nutrigenomics lies at the crossroads of these major developments in the nutritional sciences and human genomics and genetics, and it is also developing at a time when the commercialization of research is an expected outcome of research funding. Technology transfer of bench science to publicly accessible applications is a high priority for universities and their funders who coordinate with private sector companies and investors to bring new products and services to market. Nutrigenomics is a growing field of innovative research and development, it has opened a new field of environmental genomics research, (3) and represents a novel and potentially high-value proposition recognized already by private sector interests. Accordingly, proprietary interest in nutrigenomics has resulted in a number of patents being issued, or existing patents being licensed for use in nutrigenomics applications.

The purpose of this paper is to give an overview of the status of intellectual property rights, particularly patents, in the emerging field of nutrigenomics. It is not a formal and exhaustive review of all nutrigenomics patents, licensing activity, and estimation of market capitalization. Rather, the approach taken here involves the characterization of a few representative patents in nutrigenomics to shed light on the kind of patenting activity in the field. Next follows a discussion about the role of patents in genomics and biotechnology innovation, and highlights some of the claims made about the impact that patents have on innovation and markets. These considerations lead to a short discussion of the impact of patents in nutrigenomics. In recognition of the criticism directed toward patenting in genomics and genetics, this paper concludes with a preliminary evaluation of effects of strategic patent uses in nutrigenomics.

Patenting Activity in Nutrigenomics

There are three main types of conventional patenting activity and one wild-card type that are of interest in nutrigenomics. The three conventional types are: patents on genes, gene variants or methods of detecting gene variants; patents for bioactive food compounds; and patents on proprietary methods for analyzing gene-nutrient associations using computer supported algorithms. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Intellectual Property and Nutrigenomics


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.